Ask the Yangxifu: Will Chinese Boyfriend Accept Out of Wedlock Baby?

Baby foot
Will your Chinese boyfriend give you the boot if you already have a baby, and it's not his?

Baby-in-tow asks:

I have a Chinese boyfriend staying here in our town and working in a big company, and he is 30 years of age and he has stayed here almost 6 years. I’m 23 years of age and i just want to ask if my boyfriend will accept me if he knows that I have a daughter in my past relationship (I’m not married and we have totally broken up).Please help me in my problem?..what should I do.??? My boyfriend loves me and really cares for me..hope you can help me. Thank you so much!


Teen pregnancy. Single motherhood. In China, these are no better than fairytale dragons. Because, for most Chinese people, they just don’t exist:

in China…Having baby out-of-wedlock is not an option. Here they cannot even fathom having a baby without a husband. It just isn’t done. In the rare case that it does happen you would be a disgrace to your family and your friends and the baby would disappear. The potential shame you would feel would deter it from ever happening. I had a young Chinese girl say to me that I must have gotten married young. I asked why? She said, because your kids are so old. I said you don’t need to get married to have kids… her mouth hit the floor. She couldn’t believe this. She continues to ask me “what about your parents, your family, and the government?” In this country the wedding is always first, even living together before the wedding is not permitted. She told me that in China it is illegal to have a child out-of-wedlock. The government doesn’t approve of it.

I’m guessing, like that Chinese girl in the quote above, your Chinese boyfriend’s mouth would also hit the floor. Which is to say, you’ll have a LOT of trouble getting him to accept your daughter.

Consider also the tradition Chinese opposition to adoption (which would apply to your situation, as you would be asking him to “adopt” a child not directly related to him). For Chinese, adoption only happens when a family absolutely cannot conceive a child. Why? Two reasons. First, the family worries about attachment issues, namely that a non-blood-related child will not bond well with them. Second, they might also fear that the father of your child will complicate the family — most Chinese families would not welcome the possibility of some phantom man in the background who could suddenly show up and demand some involvement in his daughter’s life. This additionally plays into another fear that keeps Chinese from adoption — that the blood parents will appear out of nowhere and take the child back.

Of course, you can’t truly know what he’ll say until you tell him. After all, Jo Gan, who I quoted above, ended up marrying a Chinese man, despite having two children out of wedlock — though, her children were already grown up when she met her husband. Having to raise a non-blood related child may decrease your chances of getting a pass from him on this.

But tell him soon — realizing that it could be a dealbreaker. Good luck!


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11 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: Will Chinese Boyfriend Accept Out of Wedlock Baby?”

  1. I was not aware that having a child out of wedlock is illegal in China. That is just insane. I wonder how strictly they enforce it.

    Having most of my relatives in Hong Kong I can confirm that having a child out of wedlock or adoption are extremely rare, and will generate a lot of buzz (and negative buzz at that) about you and your family. Having that said though, it does happen. I think people in Hong Kong are a little more accepting of things like this. I don’t know how strange it is in China to marry a divorced woman with children, but THAT definitely happens in Hong Kong.

  2. I just have to say that in the end, it doesn’t matter what his reaction is going to be. Whether or not he’s willing to accept that you have a daughter doesn’t change the fact that you still need to tell him. You just can’t keep a secret like that–I mean, he’s going to find out eventually, right?

  3. I have to say I find Jo Gan’s quotation a tad extreme. I personally know Chinese women who have had children out of wedlock. Sure, it is certainly discouraged, but it happens.

  4. In China divorce and blended families are becoming more common and while China is still pretty conservative in its definition of ‘family,’ things are changing and it might really not be the idea of kids that aren’t of his own blood that bothers the guy but more the out of wedlock part and what that says in Chinese society about the children’s mother (li. It isn’t really so much the idea of getting pregnant out of wedlock that bothers Chinese people so much it is that they really can’t conceive of not either getting married or having an abortion should that situation arise. Chinese society doesn’t have the same hangups about abortion as many Western societies do so having a baby when you have other options just seems crazy. Once you go and have a baby you can’t really hide the fact that you’ve slept with people and while Chinese people have sex before marriage they don’t like to aknowledge that they do and try to keep up the image of being a “good girl.”

    If the OP’s boyfriend is living abroad though (she says he’s living in her city, doesn’t specify what country though) it is quite possible that he’s been more exposed to single motherhood and doesn’t find it quite so shocking. Also, Chinese people often have a double standard when it comes to foreigners, and accept things from us that they would find unacceptable coming from other Chinese people. We’re seen to be more liberal and “loose” anyhow. Since it isn’t as if the OP’s boyfriend would have to go around telling people the circumstances of the child’s birth (most Chinese people would probably assume she was divorced and I’m sure he’d just let them assume that, easier for everyone), as long as he can personally be at peace with it shouldn’t be a huge issue. And if the guy can’t accept OP’s daughter, then she doesn’t need him anyhow.

    I do agree OP needs to tell him asap, the daughter isn’t going anywhere, and it isn’t fair to anyone to continue the relationship under false pretenses.

  5. It might be cliche to say this, but culture aside, if he truly likes you for who you are, then he would be willing, (maybe reluctantly) to accept your history.

    Secondly, overseas Chinese, especially those born/raised in the West are generally more liberal(having been westernized) and are usually much more accepting of kids born out of wedlock. I belong to that category – I personally could care less how many kids a girl has, or even what my parents think even if we were in a serious relationship. (Although parents would definitely disapprove of such a situation)

    Thirdly, his personality defines him MORE than his culture, parents, and other influences. I have met some Chinese people from China who are easygoing, liberal, and open about such things, and would have no problem accepting children from wedlock if they truly took their bf/gf seriously. (note – being accepting does NOT mean they like to screw around)
    I have also met westernized Chinese, born and raised in the West, who are very unaccepting and disapproving of such things, and I have met one Chinese-Canadian girl who openly said that such women are “so stupid, what the hell is she gonna do about the baby, what are people gonna say etcetc, like duh hello?”

    I hope this makes things clearer.

    All the best (Baby-in-tow),


  6. Indeed – having a baby out of marriage is offense punished with heavy fines.
    I even think that some local authorities can make difficulties for a parent to register a child.

  7. from what we see in Tianjin, what you quoted is true except for one thing: sex and/or moving in together before marriage is very common.

    Sex is often acquiesced to by the girl as sort of a good-faith gesture (‘this means you love me and are going to marry me, right?’ — fyi, ladies: no, it doesn’t), but since she doesn’t consider herself one of ‘those girls’ who sleeps with guys before marriage, she’s not on birth control. So, like everywhere in China, this contributes to the unbelievable abortion rates.

    Also, it seems standard for couples to first move in together and get their stuff in order before having the wedding (but maybe in these cases they’ve already signed the marriage papers? I don’t know).

  8. I’m agreed with both Crystal and Joel, but to Crystal’s comment I would like to add that the challenges to having a baby out of wedlock she mentions – fines, difficulties registering, hukou, etc – are by no means insurmountable. I guess, though, a lot depends on location and the quality of the local officials you have to deal with.

    And @Joel: There is frequently a considerable gap between legal registration of the marriage and the wedding ceremony. For my wife and myself, it was 26 days short of a full year after we registered that we had the ceremony. We know a couple who had their ceremony at least 3 years ago but who have yet to register.

  9. My styomache churns at the thought of a female being made pregnant by a China man, disgusting, you get what you deserve in that barbaric Chinese system.

  10. This post (though almost 2 years old now) excites me because just recently I have been having the same sort of conversation with my Chinese… interest (apparently “courter” isn’t a word, heh).
    I have a son and the main thing he (Chinese beau) is concerned with is whether my son’s father will try to “take him”. He wants to raise my son as his own and even *gasp* adopt him legally (which isn’t going to happen because I’m a firm believer in biological parents being part of a child’s life), but the thought is there and that’s what counts.
    Also, more on adoption: He wants to adopt an American child as well, making his dream total for our “future family” 4 kids (1 mine, 2 ours, 1 adopted).
    So either things are changing or I found the most modern man with the most modern family in China, haha. (His parents are firm believers of, “Do what makes you happy and we’ll be proud of you.”)

    I’ve also recently come across some articles online discussing China’s abortion rate and single women having children in China. Most of China’s adoptions/abortions come from single mothers apparently; married people are less likely to have an accidental baby I guess?
    And yes they can keep the child if they have the money to pay the fines and deal with the hukou, but they would definitely lose face.

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